Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Moe...

This has been a very busy week already! I have spent much of my time researching themes for my collaborative blog, The Emerald Parlor - Tonia and I just settled on a font for our header this evening and now I can start designing the banner. I have also been maintenancing this blog, cleaning it up, moving things around, adding great links, etc. - it's amazing I have manged to get any sewing done! But I have! I finished the matching jumper to my wool jacket this afternoon, and this means that tomorrow I can devote my day to finishing up English lesson plans for the juniors (school starts in a month - yikes!)

Closed view

Open view (a)

Open view (b)

Front view

Back view

Next project? It's a toss-up: My Victorian costume for the Old West Festival; or, my Ann of Cleves gown for The Wives of Henry VIII photo shoot - decisions, decisions - :) 

Happy sewing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Our House" in Gallipolis

Dedication marker on "peanut rock" - downtown Gallipolis
I believe that so much of America's historical treasures are quietly hidden in the backwater towns that litter this beautiful nation. Yes, there's the grandeur of Philadelphia, the quaintness of Williamsburg, and the intrigue of Salem, but more often than not, I am delighted to discover that amazing history is in the least expected or realized places. No, these reserved attractions (which harbor so much of our American culture and identity) may not always have the volume or the painstakingly preserved artifacts of say the Smithsonian, however their collections are unique to the people and history of the area, illustrating a complex mosaic of events and circumstances that have shaped the local culture over time. Gallipolis, Ohio is one of those little backwater towns that has a deep-rooted history and a big story to tell. My mother's people (a racial blend of Welsh, African, and Native American peoples) found safety from bondage there, fought Morgan's Raiders there, and lived, loved, and died there - all in a little town just north of West Virginia and over the Ohio River.

If you ever happen to visit Gallipolis, I recommend that you take a drive up Fortification Hill (nicknamed Fornication Hill for all the obvious reasons - lol!) - the view of the town and the Ohio River is breathtaking!

Gallipolis, Ohio as seen from Fortification Hill

During my visit there a couple years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Our House Hostelry in downtown Gallipolis, a tavern which boasts an extended visit from the (General) Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. The Hostelry is dedicated to Lafayette and the French descendants, known as the French Five Hundred, who founded the town in 1790. Our House even has one of Lafayette's silk brocade jackets displayed in a glass case. Below are some of the pictures I took from my trip - needless to say, pictures can only provide a tiny taste of what can be experienced with a full day's visit - so go visit!  (As a side note, Gallipolis is also the home of Bob Evan's Farm and restaurant chains - I have to tell you, if you know anything about Ohioans, we love our Bob Evans sausage gravy and Homestead breakfasts - lol!)

One of the many guest rooms in the hostelry

Lafayette's silk brocade jacket

Gallipolis' "French Treatise" - hostelry ballroom

A side chair in the hostelry's ballroom

Mirror overlooking the ladies' dining room

Painted green and gold floral china c. 1810 - ladies' dining room

The hostelry's summer kitchen

For more information on Gallipolis, Ohio and its attractions, including Our House Hostelry ("like" Our House on Facebook!), please click here...

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dearly Departed & Making Mends

Mom Lois - 1964
There has been little time for sewing since the last time I posted. Shortly after, my mother-in-law died (she had suffered from several serious conditions over a prolonged period of time) and I have spent that time helping my husband and sister-in-law organize things - just helping them keep things together. There is a relief that all of us feel in my mother-in-law's passing - that she is no longer hurting, but I don't quite think the sadness of her passing, that she is forever taken from us in this life, has truly hit any of us yet. For me, I imagine my sadness will be deepest felt on her birthday - May 16 - a birthday that four other female relatives share. Now, minus one. I'm not sure about my husband - he hasn't said much. To each, in his own time...

Needless to say, it was very nice to have Tonia and PJ (Tonia's life-long friend) up on Saturday. Their visit was a needed reprieve from the events of the last week, and as always they bring cheer and good tidings - herein lies the blessing of friends - :)

But alas! Life has slowly slipped back into its normal routines. Yesterday, it felt like a good day to sew, and so I did. I fashioned me up a nice little wool jacket reminiscent of the 1960s. It took me a few hours to put it together (it's design being very basic). I like my jacket so much, I've decided to use the left over yardage from the wool (and the pink satin I used for the lining) to construct a matching dress - a lovely new ensemble to wear to work this fall! And, since I was on a sewing jag, I got to mending things which needed mending for months - the "fix it" pile was outgrowing my sewing table - lol! Now, my hubby's work pants are hemmed, shirt buttons sewn on, my daughter's skirt zippers repaired, and jacket snaps replaced. It's a relief to have it all done. I'm sure my family will be delighted to find that their beloved garments have magically appeared in good order and as good as new in their respective clean clothes piles whenever they decide to put their things away - :)

Meanwhile, happy sewing (and mending)!

(For construction pictures of  my wool jacket, please view the Dressmaker's Album)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Orangey Orange, Grapity Grape

Satin purchase this week - ooh, ahh!
I wish I could spend all of my free time sewing, but then nothing else around the house would get done. So, this was a non-sewing week for me, although I do have a Regency corset cut out ready to go under the feed dogs and ten yards of fabric washed and hung neatly on my basement clothes line ready for use in two future projects. But alas, the week has not been without accomplishments or fabric purchases! I did a fabric inventory a couple weeks ago and realized that I was frightfully low on several colors of satin, so I needed to stock up on those (and a few more colors besides - aren't they just delicious?). Then, Maria and I painted the pumpkin puke room a smoky purple-gray color called "twilight evening" - so the room has went from orange to grape - lol! Take a peek:

Orangey Orange

Grapity Grape
 As anyone with a historical home can swear by, there is usually nothing simple about refreshing a room. For one, the walls are plaster and that means repairing cracks and spackling over pits where naughty nails pulled out half the surrounding plaster when being removed - lol! But this job was extra special because I had to sand the gloss from the walls. Yes, there are deglossers on the market, and I actually used a deglosser first. But something strange happened - my walls began to "cry" oil residue. Seriously, the oil base in the paint teared-up and ran down my walls, and I could not get it to stop - for months! What the hell? So, I had to sand, sand, and sand some more, and then wash all the walls. It worked and it's why it took me four days to paint a 9x11 room! lol! 

After painting the ceiling and walls, we tackled the trim and gave it all a fresh coat of brilliant white. Oooo, and there's a bonus - I took up the 1990s jacked-up Stain Master carpet and was delighted to find that the original red oak floors were in super shape! I am a lover of hardwood floors, especially in these old homes where the wood is often unique - why not expose those beautiful floors if they are in good condition! Of course, in the picture my floor isn't looking so hot because there's still carpet dust all over and a gazillion carpet pad staples to yank out (carpet layers get real happy with those staples - I think Maria and I pulled put about 200+). Did I mention I hate tack strips? Anyway, after a good sweeping and mopping (the mop water was a scary dark gray), the floor looks great! All that's left to do is add the quarter-round around the base boards and start moving in furniture and accessories - whoohoo!  

One project down! Happy sewing (and home improvement)! :)